Every DWI offense in Virginia has a unique set of circumstances. Often times, there are several factors that will have tremendous influence on the ultimate outcome of a case making it impossible to definitively predict an end result. Regardless of the details however, there are certain things that take place for nearly all DWI cases in Fairfax.
What DWI Defendants Should Expect in Court
Typically, court will start at 9:30 in the morning when the judge will take the bench and begin calling cases. The first names called are for the DWI defendants that did not hire a lawyer. The cases where a Virginia DWI attorney is involved will be placed in a separate pile and given to the Prosecutor before court starts. Doing so allows the Prosecutor assigned to the courtroom to talk to the officers in the courtroom about the facts of their specific cases.
Advantages for DWI Defendants in Virginia
Despite what most people expect, practicing DWI law in Fairfax is a less formal process. Generally, nobody from the Commonwealth Attorney’s office looks into cases before the actual day of court. While this can present challenges to a defense lawyer, it also presents an opportunity. The downside isn’t hard to discern–without knowing the full evidence or even what Prosecutor is going to be assigned, clients are often required to make tough decisions on relatively short notice.
However, the upside to this informal set up is tremendous. Any skilled Fairfax DWI attorney will have worked on the case for some time and will be infinitely more prepared than this counterpart in the Prosecutor’s office. Although it is impossible to know every single detail, experience allows a lawyer to get a reasonable idea of what potential issues or defenses may exist with regards to a specific type of DWI offense.
Additionally, the sheer case load is another factor to be considered. While the defense attorney will only be handling one case that day, the Prosecutor will be responsible for an entire courtroom worth of cases. It isn’t uncommon for a Prosecutor to have to handle nine or ten DWIs on any given day, on top of the other Fairfax reckless driving and other traffic cases also seen in the court. Overall, the system that Fairfax uses to prosecute DWIs presents an excellent opportunity for a knowledgeable legal team to have cases slip through the cracks in order to accomplish a great result for a client.
VA DWI Attorneys Meet With Prosecutors
After the Prosecutor has spoken with the police officers who made the initial DWI arrest, a meeting with the defense lawyers will begin. Typically taking place in a little room outside the courtroom, this is a conference that defendants are not allowed to attend. During these sessions, the Prosecutor will discuss the evidence they have against the defendant and listen to as the attorney provides any mitigating factors that would play to their client’s favor. At the conclusion of this discussion, the Prosecutor will extend a plea offer. As an agreed punishment that will be offered in exchange for a guilty plea, this bargain is a negotiation with the terms largely left to the Prosecutor’s discretion. Afterward, the only choice a DWI offender and their legal team will have to make is whether or not to accept the plea offer.
The decision on whether to accept an offer is logical one as it depends on several factors. The most important point involves the terms of the agreement. Should the plea bargain call for an overly severe punishment, the indication will almost certainly be to reject it. Conversely, if the offer calls for a very lenient punishment, acceptance is more likely. It is also important to keep in mind that what is “severe” and and “lenient” are subjective. One must also factor in the strength and weakness of the evidence. the judge’s disposition, and the risk awareness of the client, and the presence or absence of complex legal issues.